In 2013, horror came back to the big screen in a big way. Texas Chainsaw, Mama, and The Purge made huge showings with audiences, but the biggest of the bunch was The Conjuring. James Wan—best known then for creating the Saw and Insidious franchises with screenwriter Leigh Whannell—directed the feature film adaptation of a real life case from paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The film, which starred Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, scored almost $140M in box office, proving itself a smash with critics and audiences alike and becoming the must see horror movie of the summer. While a sequel was greenlit quickly after, it will have taken almost three years for The Conjuring 2, also directed by Wan, to reach the screen. And we’ve been waiting!
The Conjuring 2 will address one of the most famous paranormal cases of all time, the Enfield Poltergeist with a few more surprises mixed in—don’t forget, The Conjuring also introduced audiences to Annabelle, which spun-off into its own movie and racked up $84M at Halloween in 2014. Nerdist had the opportunity to visit the set of the much anticipated sequel and speak with the stars and producers about where the franchise is headed.
When we visited the set a few months ago, the cast and the crew seemed at ease. Make no mistake—there were ghosts and plenty of water effects and stunts involved in just that one day of shooting, but everyone seemed relaxed nonetheless. One would imagine that it was almost effortless to step back into a world that the first movie established so well. Someone who was new to the whole experience was actress Frances O’Connor, playing real-life Peggy Hodgson. She was a single mother living with her family in the pubic housing project where the film’s haunting took place. “It actually was a counsel house in real life, which they were kind of assigned to,” O’Connor explains. “They’re very poor, so when there’s activity, they can’t afford to move. They just have to make the most of it, and that’s what really happened.”
She continued, saying that while she was only slightly familiar with the Enfield case, it was scary, nonetheless. “For me, I always found it a terrifying case. When you look at some of the images of the kids levitating… they have documented pictures, whether you believe them or not is another matter. It’s slightly daunting playing a real person, but playing a real person with someone involved in something so scary also makes it terrifying. That was actually more in researching it, because when you’re in the film and working on it, it’s actually a lot of fun. It’s a really great crew and lovely actors.”
Those lovely actors, of course, include Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. As they returned to reprise their roles, it is clear that staying true to who Ed and Lorraine were in real life was a task they didn’t take lightly. And, according to Farmiga, the Warrens’ devotion to combatting forces of evil took quite a serious toll on them. “The older she got, I think, the more depleted she became. It’s spiritual warfare we’re talking about, you know? It takes a toll on you…emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually…it’s draining, and we continue with this thing that she saw and explore what that is. It still plagues her, so yeah, you will see an unravelment with Lorraine. It never got easier with her. This kind of work never gets easier. Her instrument’s fine-tuned, but it takes a beating. She needs these tune-ups, and just a break, and obviously she never got one.
Farmiga continues, “Lorraine [is] so plagued. Even to this day, when I go to her house, she won’t go downstairs. She won’t go to the artifact room. I mean, why have it in your house to begin with is my question, but she won’t. She’s very haunted by all of this. And, I think, her daughter even more so. Her daughter’s very skittish when it comes to this kind of stuff. You will see that. It will continue to be an emotional roller coaster for Lorraine, because that’s just the nature of her business.”
Farmiga’s counterpart, Patrick Wilson, joins director James Wan on their fourth collaboration together. Now that Wan has not only created three major horror franchises and directed last summer’s smash success Furious 7, it’d be easy for him to form an ego about his aptitude for the work. But according to Wilson, Wan is just as passionate as ever. The actor tells us, “He lives, breathes, eats this. It takes a toll on him. He sleeps basically only on the weekends. His schedule is crazy and he puts everything he has into it. Even if he felt like he could just walk through a movie and be like, ‘Ugh, I’ve done a huge one, let’s go… I’ll just hammer this one out,’ he’ll be the first to tell you, this is harder than I expected.”
Wilson continues, “When I sat down with him like a year ago, when he decided to come on, he said, ‘I really want to make it great.’ He just burns for this. When you have that passion, it doesn’t matter sort of what genre and I’ve always said, I said even before he did Furious, the way he sets up his horror movies and his scares are the same way that you set up an action movie with the set pieces. It’s the same, we’re going to have this amount of action sequences so this sort of can build them and block them. That’s the same way he does with the scares having a kind of this page or whatever it is that he does. He’s very methodical like that.”
While we know that The Conjuring 2 will be focusing on the so-called Enfield Poltergeist, a case that the producers have called “Britain’s Amityville,” it’s worth mentioning that at the end of the first film, Lorraine made reference to a house in Long Island—a nod that savvy horror fans may recognize as the infamous Amityville haunting. I asked co-producer Rob Cowan if fans could ever expect Wilson and Farmiga’s Ed and Lorraine to make their way back to the States and take on Amityville themselves, and apparently, fans will be paying a trip to New York sooner than we thought.
“The movie starts in Amityville, so the very beginning of the movie is what really happened,” Cowan said. “They went into Amityville and they hold a séance…fairly quickly after the whole thing happened, they went in and hold the séance and wander around the house. There’s a very famous photograph of a little boy that’s in the house that they thought was one of the kids. So we play all of that out with a little bit of a hook moment that plays throughout the movie, and then has a big payoff at the end of the movie.”
The Conjuring 2 hits theaters on June 10, 2016.
Image Credits: Warner Bros. Pictures
Featured Image by Matt Kennedy